MANILA - The labor department will consider the plea of "distressed" employers to subsidize the 13th month pay of their workers, its chief said Wednesday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the agency would continue its deliberation after meeting with labor groups and employers Tuesday.
"Iko-consider ko rin yung sinabi ng employer na baka pakiusapan ko na lang si Sec. (Carlos) Dominguez ng Finance, partner ko si Secretary (Ramon) Lopez ng DTI, lambingin namin si Sec, baka pumayag kayo i-subsidize natin yung mga employers," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(I will consider what the employers said, that I might ask Sec. Dominguez, along with Secretary Lopez, if government can subsidize.)
Employers are "willing" to give workers their 13th month pay but are operating at a loss due to the pandemic, Bello said.
"Merong gumamit ng phrase na paano mo mapiga ang dugo sa bato? Sa makatuwid, they’re willing to pay pero hindi nila kaya. Mahina talaga ang negosyo. Lugi, yun ang sinasabi nila."
(Someone used the phrase how can you wring blood from stone? They're willing to pay but they can't. Businesses have been operating at a loss.)
"Hindi naman deadlock kasi yun ang gusto ng mga workers bayaran sila ng 13th month pay dahil yun ang nakasaad sa PD (Presidential Decree) 851. Ang mga employers naman di naman sila tinatanggihan," he said.
(The meeting did not end in a deadlock because workers want to be given their 13th month pay and employers are not denying it to them.)
The presidential decree issued in 1975 mandated the 13th month pay. In the same year, then Labor chief Blas Ople identified exemptions through implementing rules and regulations which include "distressed" companies or employers, Bello said.